We Go Way Back
Directed by Lynn Shelton
Because it never had a proper theatrical run here, the reRun is giving a week to this 2005 debut feature from Humpday director Lynn Shelton. In every way the better film, We Go Way Back provides more than enough reason to remain optimistic about future output from the Seattle-based filmmaker, despite that more recent "grossly incompetent, indie-buzz bomb," as Amy Taubin called the unfortunate Humpday, I think rather eloquently. Funny and unpretentious, We Go Way Back avoids the rampaging narcissism that its premise begged. Kate (liberal arts-cute Amber Hubert) is a 23-year-old theater actress who lands the lead in an untraditional production of Hedda Gabler. Newly single and flirting with a quarterlife crisis, Kate burns Jiffy muffins and can't seem to help unfulfillingly fucking every guy she's alone with. Worse, she's being haunted by her 13-year-old self (Maggie Brown)—the young Kate pops up randomly to gaze disapprovingly at the disappointment she became. She's a prepubescent buzzkill.
When she was 13, Kate wrote letters, full of questions like "Do you have a boyfriend?" and "What does beer taste like?", to herself for every birthday, to be opened once a year. When this voice from the past seemingly materializes, it's a sign that Kate's self-critical depression is winning. She is grossly self-involved (she even has a picture of her little girl self tucked into her bathroom mirror), but Shelton doesn't celebrate the fact, and the navel-gazing is tempered by streaks of dry comedy. Robert Hamilton Wright, as the quirky theater director, is funniest, his character obsessed with getting as many symbolic potatoes onstage as possible. At her ambiguous office job, Kate puts "files" into binders and is disallowed personal calls, and her coworkers are framed as faceless torsos.
Lucidly shot by Benjamin Kasulke, We Go Way Back is full of relatably "true" moments, and one knockout meltdown in a bathtub, as Kate binge-reads the childhood letters, the ink rising from the page and swaying in the water. The postcollegiate footing-finding movie is not a rare species, but Shelton manages to locate poetry in Kate's searching dissatisfaction.
Opens April 29